Keepers' Diaries, October 2000

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Voi Reintegration Unit

Following the tragic death of Malaika, our thoughts immediately turned to little Loisaba, who was only just beginning to become happy again after being orphaned in Northern Kenya, and who had adopted Malaika as her second mother. Although Lewa has always been Malaika’s favourite calf, he was beginning to join the Big Boys and travel with them into the wild herds, so Malaika was beginning to love Loisaba as well, who would have been the little Nannie for the calf, had things turned out differently. The night Malaika died, Loisaba slipped away from all the others up at the Stockades, and disappeared alone into the night, no doubt searching for Malaika. It is likely that she was patrolling the electric fence, looking for a way in to return to the place where she had last been with Malaika and where Malaika now lay dead. We were anxious because of the threat from lions, but eventually Loisaba returned to the Stockades at 8 p.m., much to everyone’s relief.

Following the tragic death of Malaika, our thoughts immediately turned to little Loisaba, who was only just beginning to become happy again after being orphaned in Northern Kenya, and who had adopted Malaika as her second mother. Although Lewa has always been Malaika’s favourite calf, he was beginning to join the Big Boys and travel with them into the wild herds, so Malaika was beginning to love Loisaba as well, who would have been the little Nannie for the calf, had things turned out differently. The night Malaika died, Loisaba slipped away from all the others up at the Stockades, and disappeared alone into the night, no doubt searching for Malaika. It is likely that she was patrolling the electric fence, looking for a way in to return to the place where she had last been with Malaika and where Malaika now lay dead. We were anxious because of the threat from lions, but eventually Loisaba returned to the Stockades at 8 p.m., much to everyone’s relief.

In the absence of Malaika, Lewa and Uaso have teamed up with Malaika’s best friend, Edo, who has always paid them special attention. It is very normal for little bulls to hero worship those bigger and higher ranking, and long before Malaika died, both Lewa and Uaso were beginning to enjoy the company of the Big Boys. Little bulls are not nearly so bonded into a family as are the females, so it was actually Loisaba that concerned us most. We suggested to the Keepers that she should be encouraged to spend time with Natumi and the babies, so that the care of the smaller elephants would take her mind off the second bereavement she had suffered in her short life. However, although she is fond of Natumi and the babies, it was Emily’s group to which she chose to return, being close to Aitong in particular. It is good to understand from the Keepers’ Diary that she seems to be befriending little Mweiga, and during the month has played with Mweiga on several occasions. We are relieved that the loss of Malaika has not plunged her into depression all over again, and that she has settled back into Emily’s group, but also spends time with Natumi and the babies.

Salama seems to dominate play in the Baby Group, particularly fond of Laikipia. Natumi obviously looks upon herself as the Leader of the Eight when the older females are not there, but she is comfortable also in the company of Emily’s unit. It is also very gratifying to find the babies are already fraternising with the wild herds so soon after relocation, and when they are not yet weaned off milk. Interesting also is the companionship that Lissa and her baby share with the older orphans, which illustrates that the bonds forged between unrelated orphans of misfortune who share a common destiny are enduring.

The drought has continued, but there were isolated rainstorms during the latter part of the month near the Eastern Park boundary, which accounts for the absence of many of the wild herds. However, Dika and Edo have continued to present themselves at the Stockade on a daily basis, although Ndume seems to have spent quite a lot of time elsewhere.

October 2000 day to day

01 Oct

Natumi’s group and Emily’s unit left together as usual with Edo and Uaso, Lewa being with Malaika and Loisaba in the fenced area. Soon afterwards Natumi’s group met a herd of 7 wild elephants. Salama befriended one little boy of his age group and remained amongst the wild elephants for 40 minutes. Meanwhile Emily’s group met up with 2 wild Elephants, of whom Edo seemed fearful. On the way to the wallow to join the babies, they met another wild elephant, who came along too and joined the babies at the wallow. However, because it was cold, they wallowed only half-heartedly today. At 4.30 p.m. Natumi’s group ran into a hyaena, and Natumi led the chase to see it off.
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